Dan Ar Braz

From Britain to Breton

Picture 1 Dan Ar Braz Picture 2 Dan Ar Braz

Raised on the great guitarists of the seventies, for more than forty years Dan Ar Braz’s abrasive guitar has been shaping the landscape of modern Breton music. From Jimi Hendrix to Alan Stivell, this artist from Quimper offers a Héritage Des Celtes with added touches of the universal.

There are some signs - of the times, of fate or of life - that cannot lie. Such as on that day in 1996 when Dan Ar Braz represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest. His claim to fame? Diwanit Bugale, a song dedicated to Brittany’s local-language Diwan schools... From that point on, black and white Brittany’s ‘Gwenn ha du’ has been up there with France’s blue, white and red, and the Diwan schools are now acknowledged as legitimate children of the republican motherland!

Diwan schools – free, open and compulsory?

Dan Ar Braz is nobody’s fool, whatever people say. He’s not putting on an act, he knows very well that in order to survive, a tradition must be prepared to widen its horizons, even if in days gone by these horizons looked as gloomy as the Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier battlefields in 1488, on the morrow of the ill-fated battle with the King of France.

Before he became Dan Ar Braz, eminent ambassador for Brittany, the guitarist turned his eyes first towards America and his guitar heroes Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. And before Brittany there was Great Britain and Keith Richards. The Celtic spark was lit in 1967: working as a barman in Bénodet, Daniel Le Bras met singer Alan Stivell, and together they went on to play the local festivals. Gabriel Yacoub, the founder of Malicorne, was another member of this band of French cowboys touring France’s Wild West. Having discovered Breton music through rock and folk, Dan Ar Braz would never again stray from the salt-strewn path. It’s the salt of Celtic lands, the famous Borders of Salt, L’Héritage des Cultes’ flagship track, recorded in 1993 at the 70th Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper. There in his home town, surrounded by 75 musicians, the roars of the crowd made France’s former Eurovision Song Contest representative realise that everything had finally come a full circle.